Variables are symbolic names for values or containers. Variable declarations or assignment of values may create a container on the fly. Variable names can start with or without a special character called a sigil, followed optionally by a second special character named twigil and then an identifier.


There are four sigils. The scalar-sigil $, the positional-sigil @, the associative-sigil % and the callable-sigil &.

Sigils provide a link between syntax, the type system and containers. They provide a shortcut for the most common type constraints when declaring variables, and serve as markers for string interpolation. The positional-sigil and the associative-sigil provide type constraint that enforce base type subscripts required to know what methods to dispatch to. The callable-sigil does the same for function calls. The latter also tells the compiler where parentheses for calls can be omitted. The positional and associative-sigil also simplify assignment by flattening by default.

SigilType constraintDefault typeAssignmentExamples
$Mu (no type constraint)AnyitemInt, Str, Array, Hash
@PositionalArraylistList, Array, Range, Buf
%AssociativeHashlistHash, Map, Pair
&CallableCallableitemSub, Method, Block, Routine


my $square = 9 ** 2;
my @array  = 123;   # Array variable with three elements 
my %hash   = London => 'UK'Berlin => 'Germany';

The type to which the variable will be bound can be set with is in the declaration of the variable. Assuming we have a FailHash class:

class FailHash is Hash {
    has Bool $!final = False;
    multi method AT-KEY ( ::?CLASS:D: Str:D \key ){
        fail"Hash key"), :got(key),
          :range(self.keys)) if $!final && !self.EXISTS-KEY(key);
        callsame  # still not final, so do normal action from Hash 
    method finalize() {
        $!final = True

One can then define a %h variable of this type using is:

my %h is FailHash = oranges => "round"bananas => "bendy";

And then run the following code:

say %h<oranges>;
# OUTPUT: «round␤» 
say %h<cherry>;
CATCH { default { put .^name''.Str } }
# OUTPUT: «X::OutOfRange: Hash key out of range. Is: cherry, should be in (oranges bananas)» 

For information on variables without sigils, see sigilless variables.

Item and list assignment§

There are two types of variable assignment, item assignment and list assignment.

An item assignment copies a single value from the right-hand side into a Scalar variable on the left. An assignment to anything other than a simple Scalar variable is parsed as a list assignment. A list assignment leaves the choice of what the assignment operation entails to the variable on the left. For example, Array variables (@ sigil) empty themselves on list assignment, and then iteratively copy all values from the right-hand side into themselves as elements.

The two types of assignment both use the equal sign = as their operator and are both right associative, but differ in operator precedence: item assignment has a higher precedence level (level: Item assignment) than list assignment (level: List prefix). In situations in which a comma-separated list of elements is assigned, these precedences should in particular be contrasted with that of the comma operator , which sits in between. So without any list-delimiting parentheses (or other construct to hold the list's elements together), item assignment will only assign the first element of the specified list, and not the full list.

In an assignment expression the context of the left-hand side determines whether an = means item or list assignment. As mentioned, item assignment is restricted to simple Scalar variables. Accordingly, assignment to a Scalar container (scalar-context) triggers item assignment, unless the Scalar is explicitly put in list-context by surrounding parentheses ( ):

my $a;
$a = 1,2,3;        # item assignment to Scalar 
say $a;            # OUTPUT: «1␤» ( '=' has higher precedence than ',' ) 
my $b = 1,2,3;     # item assignment to Scalar (same as preceding example) 
say $b;            # OUTPUT: «1␤» 
my $c;
($c= 4,5,6;      # list assignment to Scalar; '( )' is list-contextualizer 
say $c;            # OUTPUT:  «(4,5,6)␤» 
(my $d= 4,5,6;   # list assignment to Scalar (same as preceding example) 
say $d;            # OUTPUT:  «(4,5,6)␤»

Assignment to a List container (list-context) always triggers list assignment:

my @e;
@e = 7,8,9;                    # list assignment to Array 
say @e;                        # OUTPUT:  «[7,8,9]␤» 
my $f;
($f,) = 7,8,9;                 # list assignment to List with one element 
say $f;                        # OUTPUT:  «7␤» 
say ( ($f,) ).VAR.^name;       # OUTPUT:  «List␤» 
# ATTENTION: special declaration syntax! 
my ($g= 7,8,9;               # list assignment to List with one element 
say $g;                        # OUTPUT:  «7␤» 
say ( ($g) ).VAR.^name         # OUTPUT:  «List␤»

The last two examples above are simple destructuring assignments that select the first item of the right-hand side list. See for a more elaborate discussion of destructuring assignments in the context of variable declarations the section on declaring a list of variables with lexical or package scope.

Chained assignments are parsed having regard to the precedence of the assignment operators and, where applicable, their right associativity. For instance, in the example below there is one chained assignment statement comprising two assignment operators. The assignment to @array is a list assignment having a lower precedence than the item assignment to the Scalar variable $num. The assignment expression involving the item assignment to the Scalar variable $num is thus evaluated first. It returns the assigned value 42, which in turn forms part of the List (42, "str") constructed by the comma operator that also has a higher precedence than the list assignment. Finally, the List (42, "str") is list-assigned to @array:

my @array;
@array = my $num = 42"str";   # parsed as @array = ( (my $num = 42), "str ) 
say @array.raku;                # OUTPUT: «[42, "str"]␤» (an Array) 
say $num.raku;                  # OUTPUT: «42␤» (a Num)

Here's a variant:

my ( @foo$bar );
@foo = ($bar= 42"str";       # parsed as @foo = ( $bar = (42, "str") ) 
say $bar.raku;                   # OUTPUT: «$(42, "str")␤» (a List)# 
say @foo.raku;                   # OUTPUT: «[(42, "str"),]␤» (an Array)

In this case, the list contextualizer ( ) puts $bar in a list context, and thus triggers a list assignment to the Scalar variable $bar. This means that there are two chained list assignments, both having a lower precedence than the comma operator , that constructs the List (42, "str"). Due to their right associativity, the list assignment expression that is evaluated first is the assignment to $bar, which returns the assigned value $(42, "str"), i.e. a Scalar containing a two-element List. This value is in turn list-assigned to @array, such that it becomes a Array with a single element, namely a List.

See operators for more details on precedence and associativity.

Sigilless variables §

Using the \ prefix, it's possible to create variables that do not have a sigil:

my \degrees = pi / 180;
my \θ       = 15 * degrees;

Note that sigilless variable do not have associated containers. This means degrees and θ, above, actually directly represent Nums. To illustrate, try assigning to one after you've defined it:

θ = 3# Dies with the error "Cannot modify an immutable Num" 

Sigilless variables do not enforce context, so they can be used to pass something on as-is:

sub logged(&f|args{
    say('Calling ' ~ & ~ ' with arguments ' ~ args.raku);
    my \result = f(|args);
    #  ^^^^^^^ not enforcing any context here 
    say(& ~ ' returned ' ~ result.raku);
    return |result;

Sigilless variables can also be used for binding. See Binding for more information.


We use the term twigils, a word play with sigil, that indicates it uses two symbols in front of an identifier; the second symbol will be placed between the sigil and the identifier, and it will be related to the scoping of a variable, that is, where that variable is defined and can be changed.

noneBased only on declarator
?Compile-time variable
!Attribute (class member)
.Method (not really a variable)
<Index into match object (not really a variable)
^Self-declared formal positional parameter
:Self-declared formal named parameter
=Pod variables
~The sublanguage seen by the parser at this lexical spot


This twigil is used for dynamic variables which are looked up through the caller's, not through the outer, scope. Look at the example below.[1]

my $lexical   = 1;
my $*dynamic1 = 10;
my $*dynamic2 = 100;
sub say-all() {
    say "$lexical$*dynamic1$*dynamic2";
say-all();    # OUTPUT: 1, 10, 100 
    my $lexical   = 2;
    my $*dynamic1 = 11;
    $*dynamic2    = 101;
    say-all(); # OUTPUT: 1, 11, 101 
say-all();  # OUTPUT: 1, 10, 101 

The first time &say-all is called, it prints "1, 10, 100" just as one would expect. The second time though, it prints "1, 11, 101". This is because $lexical isn't looked up in the caller's scope but in the scope &say-all was defined in. The two dynamic variables are looked up in the caller's scope and therefore have the values 11 and 101. The third time &say-all is called $*dynamic1 isn't 11 anymore, but $*dynamic2 is still 101. This stems from the fact that we declared a new dynamic variable $*dynamic1 in the block and did not assign to the old variable as we did with $*dynamic2.

The dynamic variables differ from other variable types in that referring to an undeclared dynamic variable is not a compile time error but a runtime Failure, so a dynamic variable can be used undeclared as long as it's checked for definedness or used in a Boolean context before using it for anything else:

sub foo() {
    $*FOO // 'foo';
say foo# OUTPUT: «foo␤» 
my $*FOO = 'bar';
say foo# OUTPUT: «bar␤» 

Dynamic variables can have lexical scope when declared with my or package scope when declared with our. Dynamic resolution and resolution through symbol tables introduced with our are two orthogonal issues.


Compile-time variables may be addressed via the ? twigil. They are known to the compiler and may not be modified after being compiled in. A popular example for this is:

say "$?FILE$?LINE"# OUTPUT: "hello.raku: 23" 
                      # if this is the line 23 of a 
                      # file named "hello.raku"

For a list of these special variables, see compile-time variables.


Attributes are variables that exist per instance of a class. They may be directly accessed from within the class via !:

my class Point {
    has $.x;
    has $.y;
    method Str() {

Note how the attributes are declared as $.x and $.y but are still accessed via $!x and $!y. This is because in Raku all attributes are private and can be directly accessed within the class by using $!attribute-name. Raku may automatically generate accessor methods for you though. For more details on objects, classes and their attributes see object orientation.


The . twigil isn't really for variables at all. In fact, something along the lines of

my class Point {
    has $.x;
    has $.y;
    method Str() {
        "($.x$.y)" # note that we use the . instead of ! this time 

just calls the methods x and y on self, which are automatically generated for you because you used the . twigil when the attributes were declared. Note, however, that subclasses may override those methods. If you don't want this to happen, use $!x and $!y instead.

The fact that the . twigil does a method call implies that the following is also possible:

class SaySomething {
    method a() { say "a"}
    method b() { $.a}
SaySomething.b# OUTPUT: «a␤»

For more details on objects, classes and their attributes and methods see object orientation.


The ^ twigil declares a formal positional parameter to blocks or subroutines; that is, variables of the form $^variable are a type of placeholder variable. They may be used in bare blocks to declare formal parameters to that block. So the block in the code

my @powers-of-three = 1,3,9100;
say reduce { $^b - $^a }0|@powers-of-three;
# OUTPUT: «61␤»

has two formal parameters, namely $a and $b. Note that even though $^b appears before $^a in the code, $^a is still the first formal parameter to that block. This is because the placeholder variables are sorted in Unicode order.

Although it is possible to use nearly any valid identifier as a placeholder variable, it is recommended to use short names or ones that can be trivially understood in the correct order, to avoid surprise on behalf of the reader.

Normal blocks and subroutines may also make use of placeholder variables but only if they do not have an explicit parameter list.

sub say-it    { say $^a} # valid 
sub say-it()  { say $^a} # invalid 
              { say $^a} # valid 
-> $x$y$x { say $^a} # invalid 

Placeholder variables cannot have type constraints or a variable name with a single upper-case letter (this is disallowed to enable catching some Perl-isms).

The ^ twigil can be combined with any sigil to create a placeholder variable with that sigil. The sigil will have its normal semantic effects, as described in the Sigils table. Thus @^array, %^hash, and &^fun are all valid placeholder variables.


The : twigil declares a formal named parameter to a block or subroutine. Variables declared using this form are a type of placeholder variable too. Therefore the same things that apply to variables declared using the ^ twigil also apply here (with the exception that they are not positional and therefore not ordered using Unicode order). For instance:

say { $:add ?? $^a + $^b !! $^a - $^b }45 ) :!add
# OUTPUT: «-1␤»

See ^ for more details about placeholder variables.

A note on ^ and :§

Unlike other twigils, ^ and : declare variables, which can then be referred to without that twigil. Thus, the previous example could be written as:

say { $:add ?? $^a + $^b !! $a - $b }45 ) :!add      # OUTPUT: «-1␤»

That is, once you have used $^a to declare $a, you can refer to that variable in the same scope with either $^a or $a. The same is true for :: after declaring $:add, you are free to refer to that declared variable with $add if you prefer.

In some instances, this is just a convenience – but it can be much more significant when dealing with nested blocks. For example:

{ say $^awith "inner" { say $^a } }("outer");       # OUTPUT: «outer␤inner␤» 
{ say $^awith "inner" { say $a } }("outer");        # OUTPUT: «outer␤outer␤»

The first line declares two formal positional parameters, while the second declares only one (but refers to it twice). This can be especially significant with constructs such as with, for, and if that are often used without much consideration of the fact that they create blocks.

Just like the ^twigil, the : twigil can be combined with any sigil; using : with a sigil will create a formal named parameter with that sigil (applying the semantics of that sigil). Thus @:array, %:hash, and &:fun are all valid, and each creates a formal named parameter with the specified sigil.


The = twigil is used to access Pod variables. Every Pod block in the current file can be accessed via a Pod object, such as $=data, $=SYNOPSIS or =UserBlock. That is: a variable with the same name of the desired block and a = twigil.

=begin Foo
=end Foo
# after that, $=Foo gives you all Foo-Pod-blocks 

You may access the Pod tree which contains all Pod structures as a hierarchical data structure through $=pod.

Note that all those $=someBlockName support the Positional and the Associative roles.

The ~ twigil §

The ~ twigil is for referring to sublanguages (called slangs). The following are useful:

$~MAINthe current main language (e.g., Raku statements)
$~Quotethe current root of quoting language
$~Quasithe current root of quasiquoting language
$~Regexthe current root of regex language
$~Transthe current root of transliteration language
$~P5Regexthe current root of the Perl regex language

You augment these languages in your current lexical scope.

augment slang Regex {  # derive from $~Regex and then modify $~Regex 
    token backslash:std<\Y> { YY };

Variable declarators and scope§

Most of the time it's enough to create a new variable using the my keyword:

my $amazing-variable = "World";
say "Hello $amazing-variable!"# OUTPUT: «Hello World!␤»

However, there are many declarators that change the details of scoping beyond what Twigils can do.

myIntroduces lexically scoped names
ourIntroduces package-scoped names
hasIntroduces attribute names
anonIntroduces names that are private to the construct
stateIntroduces lexically scoped but persistent names
augmentAdds definitions to an existing name
supersedeReplaces definitions of an existing name

There are also three prefixes that resemble declarators but act on predefined variables:

tempRestores a variable's value at the end of scope
letRestores a variable's value at the end of scope if the block exits unsuccessfully
constantDeclares that a container value is not going to change during its lifetime

The my declarator§

Declaring a variable with my gives it lexical scope. This means it only exists within the current block. For example:

    my $foo = "bar";
    say $foo# OUTPUT: «"bar"␤» 
say $foo# Exception! "Variable '$foo' is not declared" 

This dies because $foo is only defined as long as we are in the same scope.

In order to create more than one variable with a lexical scope in the same sentence surround the variables with parentheses:

my ( $foo$bar );

see also Declaring a list of variables with lexical or package scope.

Additionally, lexical scoping means that variables can be temporarily redefined in a new scope:

my $location = "outside";
sub outer-location {
    # Not redefined: 
    say $location;
outer-location# OUTPUT: «outside␤» 
sub in-building {
    my $location = "inside";
    say $location;
in-building;    # OUTPUT: «inside␤» 
outer-location# OUTPUT: «outside␤»

If a variable has been redefined, any code that referenced the outer variable will continue to reference the outer variable. So here, &outer-location still prints the outer $location:

sub new-location {
    my $location = "nowhere";
new-location# OUTPUT: «outside␤» 

To make new-location() print nowhere, make $location a dynamic variable using the * twigil. This twigil makes the compiler look up the symbol in the calling scope instead of the outer scope after trying the local scope.

my is the default scope for subroutines, so my sub x() {} and sub x() {} do exactly the same thing.

The our declarator§

our variables are created in the scope of the surrounding package. They also create an alias in the lexical scope, therefore they can be used like my variables as well.

module M {
    our $Var;
    # $Var available here 
# Available as $M::Var here.

In order to create more than one variable with package scope, at the same time, surround the variables with parentheses:

our ( $foo$bar );

see also the section on declaring a list of variables with lexical or package scope.

Declaring a list of variables with lexical (my) or package (our) scope§

It is possible to scope more than one variable at a time, but both my and our require variables to be placed into parentheses:

my  (@a,  $s,  %h);   # same as my @a; my $s; my %h; 
our (@aa$ss%hh);  # same as our @aa; our $ss; our %hh;

This can be used in conjunction with destructuring assignment. Any assignment to such a list will take the number of elements provided in the left list and assign corresponding values from the right list to them. Any missing elements are left will result in undefined values according to the type of the variables.

my (Str $aStr $bInt $c= <a b>;
say [$a$b$c].raku;
# OUTPUT: «["a", "b", Int]␤»

To destructure a list into a single value, create a list literal with one element by using ($var,). When used with a variable declarator, providing parentheses around a single variable is sufficient.

sub f { 1,2,3 };
my ($a= f;
say $a.raku;
# OUTPUT: «1␤»

To skip elements in the list use the anonymous state variable $.

my ($,$a,$,%h= ('a''b', [1,2,3], {:1th});
say [$a%h].raku;
# OUTPUT: «["b", {:th(1)}]␤»

The has declarator§

has scopes attributes to instances of a class or role, and methods to classes or roles. has is implied for methods, so has method x() {} and method x() {} do the same thing.

See object orientation for more documentation and some examples.

The anon declarator§

The anon declarator prevents a symbol from getting installed in the lexical scope, the method table and everywhere else.

For example, you can use it to declare subroutines which know their own name, but still aren't installed in a scope:

my %operations =
    half   => anon sub half($x{ $x / 2 },
    square => anon sub square($x{ $x * $x },
say %operations<square>.name;       # square 
say %operations<square>(8);         # 64

Since it is a declarator, it can be applied anywhere anything is declared, for instance for classes or even sigilless variables.

say anon class þ {};     # OUTPUT: «(þ)␤» 
say anon sub þ  { 42 };  # OUTPUT: «&þ␤»

Since these symbols are not installed in the scope, they can't be used by name. They are useful, however, if they need to be assigned to an external variable and they need to know their own name, but this can be retrieved using introspection.

my $anon-class = anon class {
    has $.bar;
    method equal( ::?CLASS $foo ) {
      return $ == $.bar;
say $$ ) );
# OUTPUT: «True␤» 

The state declarator§

state declares lexically scoped variables, just like my. However, initialization happens exactly once, the first time the initialization is encountered in the normal flow of execution. Thus, state variables will retain their value across multiple executions of the enclosing block or routine.

Therefore, the subroutine

sub a {
    state @x;
    state $l = 'A';
say a for 1..6;

will continue to increment $l and append it to @x each time it is called. So it will output:

[A B]
[A B C]
[A B C D]
[A B C D E]
[A B C D E F]

Since they have a lexical scope, they are tied to the block in which they are declared.

sub foo () {
  for 0..1 {
    state $foo = 1;
    say $foo++;
foo;  # OUTPUT: «1␤2␤» 
foo;  # OUTPUT: «1␤2␤» 

In this case, a new state variable is created every time the block that runs the for loop is entered, which is why the state variable is reset in every call to foo.

This works per "clone" of the containing code object, as in this example:

({ state $i = 1$i++.say} xx 3).map: {$_(), $_()}# OUTPUT: «1␤2␤1␤2␤1␤2␤» 

Note that this is not a thread-safe construct when the same clone of the same block is run by multiple threads. Also remember that methods only have one clone per class, not per object.

As with my, a declaration of multiple state variables must be placed in parentheses which can be omitted for a single variable.

Many operators come with implicit binding which can lead to actions at a distance.

Use .clone or coercion to create a new container that can be bound to.

my @a;
my @a-cloned;
sub f() {
    state $i;
    @a       .push: "k$i" => $i;
    @a-cloned.push: "k$i" => $i.clone;
f for 1..3;
say @a;        # OUTPUT: «[k1 => 3 k2 => 3 k3 => 3]␤» 
say @a-cloned# OUTPUT: «[k1 => 1 k2 => 2 k3 => 3]␤»

State variables are shared between all threads. The result can be unexpected.

sub code(){ state $i = 0say ++$i$i };
    start { loop { last if code() >= 5 } },
    start { loop { last if code() >= 5 } };
# OUTPUT: «1␤2␤3␤4␤4␤3␤5␤» 
# OUTPUT: «2␤1␤3␤4␤5␤» 
# many other more or less odd variations can be produced

The $ variable§

In addition to explicitly declared named state variables, $ can be used as an anonymous state variable without an explicit state declaration.

say "1-a 2-b 3-c".subst(:g, /\d/{<one two three>[$++]});
# OUTPUT: «one-a two-b three-c␤»

Furthermore, state variables can be used outside of subroutines. You could, for example, use $ in a one-liner to number the lines in a file.

raku -ne 'say ++$ ~ " $_"' example.txt

Each reference to $ within a lexical scope is in effect a separate variable.

raku -e '{ say ++$; say $++  } for ^5'
# OUTPUT: «1␤0␤2␤1␤3␤2␤4␤3␤5␤4␤»

That is why, if you need to reference the same $ variable (or, for that matter, any of the other anon state variables @ and %) more than once, a possible solution is to bind another variable to it, although in this example it would be more straightforward to just declare state $x and not use the magical/anonymous $ variable:

sub foo () {
    my $x := $;
    say $x;
    $x = $x + 1;
foo() for ^3# OUTPUT: «1␤3␤5␤» 

In general, it is better style to declare a named state variable in case you have to refer to it several times.

Note that the implicit state declarator is only applied to the variable itself, not the expression that may contain an initializer. If the initializer has to be called exactly once, the state declarator has to be provided.

for ^3 {       $ = .say } # OUTPUT: «0␤1␤2␤» 
for ^3 { state $ = .say } # OUTPUT: «0␤» 

The @ variable§

Similar to the $ variable, there is also a Positional anonymous state variable @.

sub foo($x{
    say (@).push($x);
foo($_for ^3;
# OUTPUT: «[0] 
#          [0 1] 
#          [0 1 2]␤»

The @ here is parenthesized in order to disambiguate the expression from a class member variable named @.push. Indexed access doesn't require this disambiguation but you will need to copy the value in order to do anything useful with it.

sub foo($x{
    my $v = @;
    $v[$x= $x;
    say $v;
foo($_for ^3;
# OUTPUT: «[0] 
#          [0 1] 
#          [0 1 2]␤»

As with $, each mention of @ in a scope introduces a new anonymous array.

The % variable§

In addition, there's an Associative anonymous state variable %.

sub foo($x{
    say (%).push($x => $x);
foo($_for ^3;
# OUTPUT: «{0 => 0} 
#          {0 => 0, 1 => 1} 
#          {0 => 0, 1 => 1, 2 => 2}␤»

The same caveat about disambiguation applies. As you may expect, indexed access is also possible (with copying to make it useful).

sub foo($x{
    my $v = %;
    $v{$x} = $x;
    say $v;
foo($_for ^3;
# OUTPUT: «{0 => 0} 
#          {0 => 0, 1 => 1} 
#          {0 => 0, 1 => 1, 2 => 2}␤»

As with the other anonymous state variables, each mention of % within a given scope will effectively introduce a separate variable.

The augment declarator§

With augment, you can add methods, but not attributes, to existing classes and grammars, provided you activated the MONKEY-TYPING pragma first.

Since classes are usually our scoped, and thus global, this means modifying global state, which is strongly discouraged. For almost all situations, there are better solutions.

# don't do this 
augment class Int {
    method is-answer { self == 42 }
say;       # OUTPUT: «True␤»

(In this case, the better solution would be to use a function).

For a better, and safer example, this is a practical way to create a class module to extend IO::Path by adding a currently missing method to yield the part of the basename left after the extension is removed. (Note there is no clear developer consensus about what to call that part or even how it should be constructed.)

unit class IO::Barename is IO::Path;
method new(|c{
    return self.IO::Path::new(|c);
augment class IO::Path {
    method barename {

The temp prefix§

Like my, temp restores the old value of a variable at the end of its scope. However, temp does not create a new variable.

my $in = 0# temp will "entangle" the global variable with the call stack 
            # that keeps the calls at the bottom in order. 
sub f(*@c{
    (temp $in)++;
     ~ @c».indent($in).join("\n")
     ~ (+@c ?? "\n" !! "")
     ~ '</f>'
sub g(*@c{
    (temp $in)++;
    ~ @c».indent($in).join("\n")
    ~ (+@c ?? "\n" !! "")
    ~ "</g>"
print g(g(f(g()), g(), f()));
# OUTPUT: «<g> 
#           <g> 
#            <f> 
#             <g> 
#             </g> 
#            </f> 
#            <g> 
#            </g> 
#            <f> 
#            </f> 
#           </g> 
#          </g>␤»

The let prefix§

Restores the previous value if the block exits unsuccessfully. A successful exit means the block returned a defined value or a list.

my $answer = 42;
    let $answer = 84;
    die if not Bool.pick;
    CATCH {
        default { say "it's been reset :(" }
    say "we made it 84 sticks!";
say $answer;

In the above case, if the Bool.pick returns true, the answer will stay as 84 because the block returns a defined value (say returns True). Otherwise the die statement will cause the block to exit unsuccessfully, resetting the answer to 42.

The constant prefix§

The constant prefix declares that the value it tags is not going to change during its lifetime.

constant $pi2 = pi * 2;
$pi2 = 6# OUTPUT: «(exit code 1) Cannot assign to an immutable value␤ 

The value is assigned at compile time. Since Raku modules are precompiled automatically, constants defined in modules are not re-evaluated when the program is run. Please check the section on constants in the Terms page for additional information.

Type constraints and initialization§

Variables have a type constraint via the container they are bound to, which goes between the declarator and the variable name. The default type constraint is Mu. You can also use the trait of to set a type constraint.

    my Int $x = 42;
    $x = 'a string';
    CATCH { default { put .^name''.Str } }
    # OUTPUT: «X::TypeCheck::Assignment: Type check failed in assignment to $x; 
    expected Int but got Str ("a string")␤»

If a scalar variable has a type constraint but no initial value, it's initialized with the type object of the default value of the container it's bound to.

my Int $x;
say $x.^name;       # OUTPUT: «Int␤» 
say $x.defined;     # OUTPUT: «False␤»

Scalar variables without an explicit type constraint are typed as Mu but default to the Any type object.

Variables with the @ sigil are initialized with an empty Array; variables with the % sigil are initialized with an empty Hash.

The default value of a variable can be set with the is default trait, and re-applied by assigning Nil to it:

my Real $product is default(1);
say $product;                       # OUTPUT: «1␤» 
$product *= 5;
say $product;                       # OUTPUT: «5␤» 
$product = Nil;
say $product;                       # OUTPUT: «1␤»

Default defined variables pragma§

To force all variables to have a definiteness constraint, use the pragma use variables :D. The pragma is lexically scoped and can be switched off with use variables :_.

use variables :D;
my Int $i;
# OUTPUT: «===SORRY!=== Error while compiling <tmp>␤Variable definition of type Int:D (implicit :D by pragma) requires an initializer ... 
my Int $i = 1# that works 
{ use variables :_my Int $i} # switch it off in this block 

Note that assigning Nil will revert the variable to its default value, which is often not a definite value and as such would fail the constraint:

use variables :D;
my Int $x = 42;
$x = Nil;
# OUTPUT: «Type check failed in assignment to $x; expected type Int:D cannot be itself…» 

As the name suggests, this pragma applies only to variables.

Special variables§

Raku attempts to use long, descriptive names for special variables. There are only three special variables that are extra short.

Pre-defined lexical variables§

There are four special variables that are always available:

VariableMeaning Scope
$_topic variableevery block
$/regex matchevery sub / method
$!exceptionsevery sub / method
last match (similar to $/)inside current regex

Note that while you can access without error anywhere, it will contain Nil if accessed outside of a regex.

The $_ variable§

$_ is the topic variable. A fresh one is created in every block. It's also the default parameter for blocks that do not have an explicit signature, so constructs like for @array { ... } and given $var { ... } bind the value or values of the variable to $_ by invoking the block.

for <a b c> { say $_ }  # binds $_ to 'a', 'b' and 'c' in turn 
say $_ for <a b c>;     # same, even though it's not a block 
given 'a'   { say $_ }  # binds $_ to 'a' 
say $_ given 'a';       # same, even though it's not a block

Because $_ is bound to the value of the iteration, you can also assign to $_ if it is bound to something assignable.

my @numbers = ^5;   # 0 through 4 
$_++ for @numbers;  # increment all elements of @numbers 
say @numbers;
# OUTPUT: «1 2 3 4 5␤»

CATCH blocks bind $_ to the exception that was caught. The ~~ smartmatch operator binds $_ on the right-hand side expression to the value of the left-hand side.

Calling a method on $_ can be shortened by leaving off the variable name:

.say;                   # same as $_.say

m/regex/ and /regex/ regex matches and s/regex/subst/ substitutions work on $_:

say "Looking for strings with non-alphabetic characters...";
for <ab:c d$e fgh ij*> {
    .say if m/<-alpha>/;
# OUTPUT: «Looking for strings with non-alphabetic characters... 
#          ab:c 
#          d$e 
#          ij*␤»

The $/ variable§

$/ is the match variable. A fresh one is created in every routine. It is set to the result of the last Regex match and so usually contains objects of type Match.

'abc 12' ~~ /\w+/;  # sets $/ to a Match object 
say $/.Str;         # OUTPUT: «abc␤»

The Grammar.parse method also sets the caller's $/ to the resulting Match object. For the following code:

use XML::Grammar# zef install XML 
XML::Grammar.parse("<p>some text</p>");
say $/;
# OUTPUT: «「<p>some text</p>」 
#           root => 「<p>some text</p>」 
#            name => 「p」 
#            child => 「some text」 
#             text => 「some text」 
#             textnode => 「some text」 
#           element => 「<p>some text</p>」 
#            name => 「p」 
#            child => 「some text」 
#             text => 「some text」 
#             textnode => 「some text」␤» 

Prior to the 6.d version, you could use $() shortcut to get the ast value from $/ Match if that value is truthy, or the stringification of the Match object otherwise.

'test' ~~ /.../;
# 6.c language only: 
say $(); # OUTPUT: «tes␤»; 
$/.make: 'McTesty';
say $(); # OUTPUT: «McTesty␤»;

This (non-)feature has been deprecated as of version 6.d.

Positional attributes§

$/ can have positional attributes if the Regex had capture-groups in it, which are just formed with parentheses.

'abbbbbcdddddeffg' ~~ / a (b+) c (d+ef+) g /;
say $/[0]; # OUTPUT: «「bbbbb」␤» 
say $/[1]; # OUTPUT: «「dddddeff」␤»

These can also be accessed by the shortcuts $0, $1, $2, etc.

say $0# OUTPUT: «「bbbbb」␤» 
say $1# OUTPUT: «「dddddeff」␤»

To get all of the positional attributes, you can use $/.list or @$/. Before 6.d, you can also use the @() shortcut (no spaces inside the parentheses).

say @$/.join# OUTPUT: «bbbbbdddddeff␤» 
# 6.c language only: 
say @().join# OUTPUT: «bbbbbdddddeff␤»

This magic behavior of @() has been deprecated as of 6.d

Named attributes§

$/ can have named attributes if the Regex had named capture-groups in it, or if the Regex called out to another Regex.

'I... see?' ~~ / \w+ $<punctuation>=[ <-[\w\s]>+ ] \s* $<final-word> = [ \w+ . ] /;
say $/<punctuation># OUTPUT: «「....」␤» 
say $/<final-word>;  # OUTPUT: «「see?」␤» 

These can also be accessed by the shortcut $<named>.

say $<punctuation># OUTPUT: «「....」␤» 
say $<final-word>;  # OUTPUT: «「see?」␤»

To get all of the named attributes, you can use $/.hash or %$/. Before 6.d language, you could also use the %() shortcut (no spaces inside the parentheses).

say %$/.join;       # OUTPUT: «"punctuation  see?"␤» 
# 6.c language only 
say %().join;       # OUTPUT: «"punctuation  see?"␤»

This behavior has been deprecated as of the 6.d version.

Thread-safety issues§

Because $/ is only defined per routine, you are in fact re-using the same $/ when you do matching in a loop. In a single threaded program, this is not an issue. However, if you're going to use hyper or race to have multiple threads do matching in parallel, the sharing of the "outer" $/ becomes an issue, because then it is being shared between threads! Fortunately, the solution is very simple: define your own $/ inside the scope where you are doing the matching. For example, taking a source of text, running a regex on it, and map that to a hash using parallel execution:

my %mapped = {
    my $/;  # need one in this block to prevent racing issues 
    m/foo (.*?) bar (.*)/;  # matches on $_, stores in $/ 
    $0 => $1   # short for $/[0] / $/[1] 

The $! variable§

$! is the error variable. A fresh one is created in every routine. If a try block or statement prefix catches an exception, that exception is stored in $!. If no exception was caught, $! is set to Nil.

Note that CATCH blocks do not set $!. Rather, they set $_ inside the block to the caught exception.

Also note that the same thread-safety issues apply to the use of $! as they do to $/.

The variable§

See the description in Match.

Compile-time variables§

All compile time variables have a question mark as part of the twigil. Being compile time they cannot be changed at runtime, however they are valuable in order to introspect the program. The most common compile time variables are the following:

$?FILEWhich file am I in?
$?LINEWhich line am I at? [indexed from 1]
::?CLASSWhich class am I in?
%?RESOURCESThe files associated with the "Distribution" of the current compilation unit.

$?FILE and $?LINE are also available from CallFrame as the file and line methods, respectively.


%?RESOURCES is a compile-time variable available to the code of a Distribution.

It contains a hash that provides compile and runtime access to files associated with the Distribution of the current compilation unit. This hash is used to access a special storage for Distribution-wide static files (such as examples of configuration files, templates or data files).

Files available via this variable need to be placed under the Distribution's resources directory:

├── lib
│   └── Module
│       └── Foo.rakumod
├── META6.json
└── resources
    └── images
        └── foo.jpg

Additionally, a relative path (starting from the root resources directory of a distribution) to a file may be specified under the "resources" field in the META6.json file:

"resources": [

Every resource file is added to an installed Distribution and is accessible using a Hash-like access to %?RESOURCES, returning a Distribution::Resources object:

my $foo-IO = %?RESOURCES<images/foo.jpg>;          # gets an object you can slurp 
my $foo-IO = %?RESOURCES<images/foo.jpg>.absolute# gets an absolute path to a file 
my $foo-IO = %?RESOURCES<images/foo.jpg>.open;     # gets an opened IO::Handle to work with 

Note that paths and names of resource files can be mangled in an installed distribution, so do not rely on their values in any other case besides using them as keys for the %?RESOURCES variable.

The %?RESOURCES variable is not implemented as a plain Hash, but as an instance of the Distribution::Resources type, so do not expect to see all available resource files in a distribution by printing or by using other ways to inspect its value. Instead, use the API described above to access particular files.

The %?RESOURCES variable is only accessible inside of modules. If you want to access %?RESOURCES outside of a module, you'll need to expose that API yourself. One way to do that is to create a routine in the lib directory to return its value:

unit module MyLib;
sub my-resources is export {

Then create a test file, say, t/resources.t, with contents:

use Test;
use MyLib;
my $resources = my-resources;
isa-ok $resourcesHash;

The contents of the compile-time hash are thus exposed to the runtime code.

Introspection compile-time variables§

The following compile time variables allow for a deeper introspection:

$?PACKAGEWhich package am I in?
$?MODULE, ::?MODULEWhich module am I in? It contains the type of the module.
$?CLASSWhich class am I in? (as variable)
$?ROLEWhich role am I in? (as variable)
$?TABSTOPHow many spaces is a tab in a heredoc or virtual margin?
$?NLWhat a vertical newline "\n" means: LF, CR or CRLF
$?DISTRIBUTIONThe Distribution of the current compilation unit.

With particular regard to the $?NL, see the newline pragma.

Rakudo-specific compile-time variables§

These variables are Rakudo specific, with all the corresponding caveats:

$?BITSNumber of data-path bits of the platform the program is being compiled upon.


The compile time variable &?ROUTINE provides introspection about which routine the program is actually within. It returns an instance of Routine attached to the current routine. It does support the method .name to obtain the name of the called routine, as well as .signature and others method related to Routine:

sub awesome-sub { say &? }
awesome-sub# OUTPUT: «awesome-sub␤»

It also allows also for recursion:

my $counter = 10;
sub do-work {
    say 'Calling myself other ' ~ $counter-- ~ ' times';
    &?ROUTINE() if ( $counter > 0 );

Note that, in a multi, &?ROUTINE refers to the current candidate, not the multi as a whole.

Thus, the following recursive definition does not work:

multi broken-fibonacci($n where * ≤ 1{ $n }
multi broken-fibonacci($n where * > 0{
    &?ROUTINE($n - 1+ &?ROUTINE($n - 2)

If called, &?ROUTINE would always refer to the second multi candidate and would never dispatch to the first. If you want to use self-recursion for the whole proto, either use the function name or samewith.


The special compile variable &?BLOCK behaves similarly to &?ROUTINE but it allows to introspect a single block of code. It holds a Block and allows for recursion within the same block:

for '.' {
    .Str.say when !.IO.d;
    .IO.dir()».&?BLOCK when .IO.d # lets recurse a little! 


$?DISTRIBUTION provides access to the Distribution of the current compilation unit. This gives module authors a way to reference other files in the distribution by their original relative path names, or to view the metadata (via the .meta method), without needing to know the underlying file structure (such as how CompUnit::Repository::Installation changes the file layout on installation).

unit module MyFoo;
sub module-version {
    say "MyFoo is version:";
    say $?DISTRIBUTION.meta<ver># OUTPUT: «0.0.1␤» 

The .meta method currently has hash keys of ver, auth, and api,

The .content method provides access to files in the distribution when provided with the relative path from the distribution's top-level directory.

sub module-source {
    say "MyFoo source code:";
    say $?DISTRIBUTION.content('lib/MyFoo.rakumod');
    # OUTPUT: «IO::Handle<"lib/MyFoo.rakumod".IO>(closed)␤» 

Note the output for the content example is a closed filehandle. To actually use the file's content, the user can extract it as a string in another routine in the same module:

sub get-file-content {
    say $?DISTRIBUTION.content('lib/MyFoo.rakumod').open.slurp;
    # OUTPUT: «unit module MyFoo;␤» 

Dynamic variables§

All dynamically scoped variables have the * twigil, and their name is (conventionally) written in uppercase.

These variables are related to the arguments passed to a script.


An IO::ArgFiles (an empty subclass of IO::CatHandle) that uses @*ARGS as source files, if it contains any files, or $*IN otherwise. When $*IN is used, its :nl-in, :chomp, :encoding, and :bin will be set on the IO::ArgFiles object.

As of the 6.d version, $*ARGFILES inside sub MAIN is always set to $*IN, even when @*ARGS is not empty. See the class documentation for examples and more context.


@*ARGS is an array of Str containing the arguments from the command line.


A dynamic variable available inside any custom ARGS-TO-CAPTURE subroutine that can be used to perform the default argument parsing. Takes the same parameters as are expected of the custom ARGS-TO-CAPTURE subroutine.


A dynamic variable available inside any custom GENERATE-USAGE subroutine that can be used to perform the default usage message creation. Takes the same parameters as are expected of the custom GENERATE-USAGE subroutine.

Special filehandles: STDIN, STDOUT and STDERR§

For more information about special filehandles please see also the Input and Output page and the IO::Special class. IO::Handle contains several examples of using $*IN for reading standard input.

  • $*IN Standard input filehandle, AKA STDIN.

  • $*OUT Standard output filehandle, AKA STDOUT.

  • $*ERR Standard error filehandle, AKA STDERR.

Runtime environment§

These dynamic variables contain information related to the environment the script or program is running in.


Operating system environment variables. Numeric values are provided as allomorphs.


This variable holds information about modules installed/loaded.


$*INIT-INSTANT is an Instant object representing program startup time. In particular, this is when the core code starts up, so the value of $*INIT-INSTANT may be a few milliseconds earlier than INIT now or even BEGIN now executed in your program.


$*TZ is a dynamic variable intended to contain an object with information about the system's local timezone. It should numify to the number of seconds from GMT.

If not set explicitly, it contains just an integer value without any further information, set the first time $*TZ is accessed. Any daylight saving time changes occurring during the duration of the process will not be seen in that case.


It contains the Current Working Directory.


$*KERNEL contains a Kernel instance, the .gist of it being the current running kernel.

say $*KERNEL# OUTPUT: «linux (␤»


This object (of type Distro) contains information about the current operating system distribution. For instance:

say "Some sort of Windows" if $*;

$* takes a set of values that depend on the operating system. These names will vary with version and implementation, so you should double-check and test before using them in your programs; since these names are implementation defined and not in the specification, they could vary and change at any moment.

The $*DISTRO gist is displayed by using say:

say $*DISTRO# OUTPUT: «debian (9.stretch)␤»

This shows additional information on the operating system and version it's using, but as a matter of fact, this variable contains information which is useful to create portable programs, such as the path separator:

say $*DISTRO.raku;
# OUTPUT: « => "42.3", is-win => Bool::False, 
#          path-sep => ":", name => "opensuse", 
#          auth => "", version => v42.3, 
#          signature => Blob, desc => "2018-12-13T08:50:59.213619+01:00")␤»


This variable contains the current virtual machine running the code, as well as additional information on the inner workings of aforementioned VM.

say $*VM.precomp-ext" "$*VM.precomp-target# OUTPUT: «moarvm mbc␤»

These two methods, for instance, will show the extension used in the precompiled bytecode scripts and the target used. This is what is found in the Moar Virtual Machine, but it could also vary with version and implementation. Other VM, such as Java, will show different values for them. $*VM.config includes all configuration values used to create the virtual machine, e.g.

say $*VM.config<versionmajor>"."$*VM.config<versionminor>;
# OUTPUT: «2018.11␤»

which are the version of the virtual machine, generally the same one as the one used in the interpreter and the overall Raku environment.


This object of the Raku class contains information on the current implementation of the Raku language:

say $*RAKU.compiler.version# OUTPUT: «v2020.01␤»

but its gist includes the name of the language, followed by the major version of the compiler:

say $*RAKU# OUTPUT: «Raku (6.d)␤»

It stringifies to Raku:

$*RAKU.put# OUTPUT: «Raku␤»

Note: Before Rakudo version 2020.1, this information was only available through the $*PERL variable. Since Rakudo version 2020.1, it is available through both the $*RAKU and the $*PERL variables.


For the foreseeable future, the same as $*RAKU. Will be deprecated at some point.


Object containing an integer describing the current Process IDentifier (operating system dependent).


This contains the path to the current executable as it was entered on the command line, or -e if raku was invoked with the -e flag.


Contains the location (in the form of an IO::Path object) of the Raku program being executed.


This is a Callable that contains the code that will be executed when doing an exit() call. Intended to be used in situations where Raku is embedded in another language runtime (such as Inline::Perl6 in Perl).


Using $*EXIT usually only makes sense in an END block. It contains the currently known exit() value: 1 if an exception occurred, 0 if no exception occurred, N when an exit(N) was executed.

Support for $*EXIT was added in Rakudo compiler version 2023.02.


Using $*EXCEPTION usually only makes sense in an END block. It contains an instantiated Exception object if the program is ending because of an exception having been thrown. Will contain the Exception type object otherwise.

Support for $*EXCEPTION was added in Rakudo compiler version 2023.02.


Contains an IO::Path absolute path of the raku executable that is currently running.


Contains the name of the Raku executable that is currently running. (e.g. raku-p, raku-m). Favor $*EXECUTABLE over this one, since it's not guaranteed that the raku executable is in PATH.


This is an object of type Str containing the default usage message generated from the signatures of MAIN subs available from inside sub MAIN and sub USAGE. The variable is read-only.

sub MAIN($a:$bUInt :$ehehe{
    say $*USAGE# OUTPUT: «Usage:␤  my-script.raku [-a=<Int>] [-b=<Str>] [--<opts>=...]» 

It is accessible only inside of MAIN sub.


An Allomorph with information about the user that is running the program. It will evaluate to the username if treated as a string and the numeric user id if treated as a number.


An Allomorph with the primary group of the user who is running the program. It will evaluate to the groupname only if treated as a string and the numeric group id if treated as a number.


Contains information about the "home drive" of the user that is running the program on Windows. It's not defined in other operating systems.


Contains information about the path to the user directory that is running the program on Windows. It's not defined in other operating systems.


Contains an IO::Path object representing the "home directory" of the user that is running the program. Uses %*ENV<HOME> if set.

On Windows, uses %*ENV<HOMEDRIVE> ~ %*ENV<HOMEPATH>. If the home directory cannot be determined, it will be Any.


Contains the appropriate IO::Spec sub-class for the platform that the program is running on. This is a higher-level class for the operating system; it will return Unix, for instance, in the case of Linux (in the form of the IO::Spec class used for the current implementation).


This is an IO::Path object representing the "system temporary directory" as determined by .tmpdir IO::Spec::* method.


Contains a Thread object representing the currently executing thread.


This is a ThreadPoolScheduler object representing the current default scheduler.

By default this imposes a maximum of 64 threads on the methods .hyper, .race and other thread-pool classes that use that scheduler such as Promises or Supplys. This is, however, implementation, dependent and might be subject to change. To change the maximum number of threads, you can either set the environment variable RAKUDO_MAX_THREADS before running raku or create a scoped copy with the default changed before using them:

my $*SCHEDULER = ThreadPoolScheduler.newmax_threads => 128 );

This behavior is not tested in the spec tests and is subject to change.


The current Telemetry::Sampler used for making snapshots of system state. Only available if Telemetry has been loaded.

Runtime variables§

These variables affect the behavior of certain functions, and in some cases its value can be changed during runtime.


Affects the number of bytes read by default by Its default value is 65536.


This is a Collation object that can be used to configure Unicode collation levels.


Available as of release 2022.02 of the Rakudo compiler.

Using Rats by itself is fine, until you run out of precision. The $*RAT-OVERFLOW dynamic variable specifies the behavior that should be executed when a Rat overflows its precision. By default, it is set to Num, meaning it will revert to using (lossy) floating point.

You can also set it to FatRat, which will cause automatic upgrade to FatRat as soon as a Rat runs out of precision. You can also specify Failure (to have it fail), Exception (to have it throw an exception) or CX::Warn (to have it warn on downgrading to Num).

To activate this globally to upgrade to FatRat:


To activate this only for a lexical scope:

my $*RAT-OVERFLOW = FatRat;

How does that work? The $*RAT-OVERFLOW variable is supposed to contain a class or instance on which the UPGRADE-RAT method will be called when a Rat overflows. So you can introduce your own behavior by creating a class with an UPGRADE-RAT method in it.

Such a method should accept two integer values: one for the numerator and one for the denominator. For example (not entirely serious) would be to convert the resulting value to Inf if really great, or 0 if really small:

class ZeroOrInf {
    method UPGRADE-RAT(Int $nuInt $de{
        $nu > $de ?? Inf !! 0


Variable used by the =~= operator, and any operations that depend on it, to decide if two values are approximately equal. Defaults to 1e-15.

Naming conventions§

It is helpful to know our naming conventions in order to understand what codes do directly. However, there is not yet (and might never be) an official list of; still, we list several conventions that are widely held.

  • Subs and methods from the built-ins library try to have single-word names when a good one could be found. In cases where there are two or more words making up a name, they are separated by a "-".

  • Compounds are treated as a single word, thus substr, subbuf, and deepmap (just like we write "starfish", not "star fish" in English).

  • Subs and methods that are automatically called for you at special times are written in uppercase. This includes the MAIN sub, the AT-POS and related methods for implementing container types, along with BUILD and DESTROY.

  • Type names are camel case, except for native types, which are lowercase. For the exception, you can remember it by: they are stored in a more compact way, so they names look smaller too.

  • Built-in dynamic variables and compile-time variables are always uppercase, such like $*OUT, $?FILE.

  • Methods from the MOP and other internals use "_" to separate multiple words, such like add_method.

1 [↑] The example below cannot run correctly in the REPL, yielding an error about not finding the dynamic variables. Please test it by copy-pasting it into a file, then run the file.